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Russia-Ukraine conflict updates: Biden unveils more sanctions after Russia takes Chernobyl

Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday by land, air and sea after weeks of tense buildup and efforts from global leaders to find a diplomatic solution.

This event has ended. For more updates, read here.

288d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

Chernobyl power plant captured by Russian forces

Russian occupation forces have seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster, said Anton Herashchenko, an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister.

Earlier Thursday, Zelenskyy called Russia’s move to seize the area, which is north of Kyiv near the border of Belarus, “a declaration of war against the whole of Europe.” 

The Chernobyl nuclear accident took place on April 26, 1986, near Pripyat, in the north of the country, which was then part of the Soviet Union. A reactor core fire, sparked by an uncontrolled reaction during a routine test, released radioactive contamination into the air for 10 days. And that contamination rained down on parts of the Soviet Union and Western Europe.

288d ago / 6:36 PM UTC

288d ago / 5:59 PM UTC

Ukrainian military: Russia attacking from land, air and sea

Russian forces continue "to act aggressively along the entire line of the common border," the Ukrainian military reported on Thursday morning, although NBC News has not been able to confirm the government's assertions. 

The Ukrainian government reported conflicts across the region involving tanks and "columns of enemy armored vehicles." The post said the military was fighting with 20 Russian helicopters for control of an airfield in the city of Hostomel, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

The government also reported that a Russian cruiser, “Moscow,” had started shelling Zmiinyi Island.

288d ago / 5:55 PM UTC

McConnell says U.S. must ensure Ukrainians are "fully armed," calls for tougher sanctions

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday said that the U.S. must ensure Ukrainians are "fully armed" in the fight against Russian forces as he called for tougher sanctions against Moscow.

“A combination of perception of weakness and a yearning for empire is what led to the war in Ukraine," McConnell told reporters in Louisville, Kentucky. “Ratchet the sanctions all the way up. Don’t hold any back. Every single available sanction should be employed. There’s no such thing as a little invasion.”

He also stressed the importance of ensuring that Ukraine has the military capabilities to counter Russia's aggression. “If the Ukrainians have the willingness to fight, and we’re going to find that out starting today, we need to make sure they’re fully armed and able to use every available weapon that will help inflict maximum damage on the Russian forces," he said.

288d ago / 5:50 PM UTC

Videos hint at Russia's military might in Ukraine

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Within hours of Putin authorizing military action in Ukraine, dramatic video hinted at the force of Russia's military hardware.

As Russian forces launched what Ukrainian officials described as a “full-scale attack” on their homeland Thursday, footage captured on the ground showed helicopters swooping over cities. Meanwhile, tanks and other military vehicles rolled out onto streets.

In one video verified by NBC News, helicopters could be seen flying toward Antonov Airport in Hostomel, near Kyiv, as heavy smoke swirled on the horizon.

In another video, shot from nearby Vyshhorod, helicopters appear to drop flares as they travel over water and then inland.

More here.

288d ago / 5:46 PM UTC

Biden has been presented with options for massive cyberattacks against Russia

Biden has been presented with a menu of options for the U.S. to carry out massive cyberattacks designed to disrupt Russia’s ability to sustain its military operations in Ukraine, four people familiar with the deliberations tell NBC News.

Two U.S. intelligence officials, one Western intelligence official and another person briefed on the matter say no final decisions have been made, but they say U.S. intelligence and military cyber warriors are proposing the use of American cyber weapons on a scale never before contemplated. Among the options: Disrupting internet connectivity across Russia, shutting off electric power, and tampering with railroad switches to hamper Russia’s ability to re-supply its forces, three of the sources said.

“You could do everything from slow the trains down to have them fall off the tracks,” one person briefed on the matter said.

Read more here.

288d ago / 5:40 PM UTC

On TikTok, livestreams show protests — and attract scams

Livestreams on TikTok are bringing a first-person view of the conflict from all over Europe — but some of the streams purporting to come from Ukraine appeared to be fake.

Some of the livestreams appear to be authentic, showing crowds gathered in major cities to protest Russian aggression. But other TikTok users are pretending to be in Ukraine, using doctored or dubbed footage of other places in an attempt to solicit followers and monetary donations.  

One account, which called for donations through TikTok, featured a livestream of a line of houses in a residential area as the sounds of gunshots, sirens and people screaming for help could be heard in the background. But that account hours earlier had posted a different angle of the same street in which cars with U.K. license plates were visible. 

Other videos posted to TikTok appear to be recycling old video and passing it off as coming from Ukraine. In one video viewed almost 20 million times on TikTok and posted about two hours after the first reports of shellings in Ukraine, a soldier is seen parachuting out of an airplane. “Bro is recording an invasion,” the top comment reads.

The video is from a training exercise, first posted to an Instagram account by a user with the same username on April 6, 2016. The user on TikTok was seen later on Tuesday livestreaming on his couch.

288d ago / 5:36 PM UTC

Schiff calls for increased sanctions against Russia, says he expects bipartisan support

Rep. Adam Schiff, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Thursday that the U.S. needs to "dramatically escalate" sanctions against Russia, and expressed support for the country's removal from the SWIFT banking system. 

As countries look to potentially decrease European reliance on Russian energy, Schiff said the conflict should result in the "final death" of Nord Stream 2. 

He also said he expects bipartisan support for any restrictions Biden may look to place against Russia. 

"If there's any authority he doesn't have that he does need for these sanctions, I think he'll get it from Congress," Schiff said.

288d ago / 5:16 PM UTC

Families in Kyiv takes shelter in basements and subways: ‘It’s very frightening’

In Kyiv, basements and subway stations have become make-shift bunkers.

Anastasiia Odintsova, 38, told NBC News her family took shelter in the basement of her building when they heard air-raid sirens Thursday.

“It’s very frightening, especially when you have two children and can't explain why Russia shoots at us,” Odintsova said.

Anastasiia Odintsova hides in a basement with her family in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Anastasiia Odintsova hides in a basement with her family in Kyiv, Ukraine.Courtesy Anastasiia Odintsova

She said it was the first time she’s had to use her basement as a bunker.

“It’s not a real shelter for military action, but it is better than our flat,” she said, adding that her children — aged 8 and 15 — were “afraid but don’t want to leave home.”

“We all want to stay in our country, safe and free.”

288d ago / 5:14 PM UTC
288d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Czech Republic, Sweden and Poland won't play World Cup qualifiers in Russia

Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic will not play World Cup qualifying matches in Russia, soccer officials in those nations said Thursday, hours after Moscow's attack on Ukraine.

Visiting Poland is set to play Russia on March 23 and if the hosts win, they'd face off about a week later against the Sweden-Czech Republic playoff winner, also in Russia.

The soccer federations of all three nations said they cannot play in Russia and want matches moved.

"Swedish football is appalled by what we now see unfolding in Ukraine," said the Swedish Football Association, adding that "as the situation now stands, it will be impossible to play a possible playoff match for the World Cup in Moscow against Russia on March 29." 

288d ago / 5:05 PM UTC

Ukrainian residents taking shelter in subway stations

People in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city, have taken shelter in subway stations that local officials have offered as impromptu bomb shelters amid attacks from Russian forces. 

People take shelter in a Kyiv subway station after Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.
People take shelter in a Kyiv subway station after Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.Viacheslav Ratinskyi / Reuters

Public transportation has come to a halt and turnstiles opened in an offer of refuge, according to NBC News correspondent Matt Bradley. Though the city's mayor has insisted fighting has stopped in the areas surrounding Kharkiv, those taking shelter are cut off from information about what's happening around them.

"It's a really dicey situation, nobody knows exactly what's going on, even right in front of their face," Bradley reported.

288d ago / 5:01 PM UTC

U.S. defense official: Russians fired more than 100 missiles in opening phase of invasion

A senior defense official, as part of operational update in the situation in Ukraine, told NBC News that the initial phase of Russia's invasion of Ukraine began around 9:30 p.m. ET, with sea- and land-based missile launches.

More than 100 Russian missiles – including short range ballistic missiles, medium range ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, surface to air missiles and sea missiles launched from the Black Sea – were fired in the initial salvo, the official said.

Targets have so far been military and air defenses, barracks, ammunition depots, and 10 airfields, the official said, adding that there is no clear understanding of the level of casualties on either side.

Smoke rise from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022.
Smoke rise from an air defense base in the aftermath of an apparent Russian strike in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Feb. 24, 2022.Evgeniy Maloletka / AP

The ground incursion began around 5:00 a.m ET from Belarus, moving northwest to Kyiv. Russian troops parachuted into Kharkiv around the same time.

The full scope of electronic warfare (jamming) and cyberattacks have not come into play yet but still could be used.

Russia will also use cruise missile strikes to target government buildings, including in civilian population centers, the official said, citing the U.S. assessment of Russia’s next moves.

The official said that several U.S. F-35 fighter jets are arriving to the region later Thursday: two to Estonia, two to Lithuania and two to Romania. In addition, 32 Apache helicopters were en route to the region Thursday, but weather may delay the arrival of some.

The official said that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have not had any communication with their Russian counterparts since the invasion began.

288d ago / 4:59 PM UTC

Putin has 'reintroduced war in Europe,' G-7 says in joint statement

The world leaders of the Group of Seven condemned Putin on Thursday and called on Russia to immediately withdraw its military forces from Ukraine.

"This has fundamentally changed the Euro-Atlantic security situation," the G7 foreign ministers said in a joint statement. "President Putin has reintroduced war to the European continent. He has put himself on the wrong side of history."

The leaders agreed on sanctions in a coordinated stand against Putin and reiterated support for Ukraine, calling Russia's presence in Crimea an "illegal" occupation. They also condemned Belarus' involvement, reminding the country of its "international obligations."

"We call on all partners and members of the international community to condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine, and raise their voice against this blatant violation of the fundamental principles of international peace and security," they said in the statement.

288d ago / 4:58 PM UTC

Ukraine invasion jeopardizes U.S.-Russia space cooperation

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is already causing tension in the space community, one of the few global arenas in which the U.S. and Russia still cooperate.

In a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter, Dmitry Rogozin, the director general of Russia’s space agency, hinted at tensions but said he values cooperation with NASA.

“We greatly value our professional relationship with NASA, but as a Russian and a citizen of Russia I am very unhappy with the openly hostile policy of the U.S. towards my country,” Rogozin said, according to a translation.

Rogozin also tweeted “Glory to Russia!” on Monday, after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a televised speech with misleading claims that Ukraine is “historically Russian land” and false claims the country has fallen into the hands of neo-Nazis and corrupt “puppets” controlled by the West.

NASA said in a statement that the agency is carrying out spaceflight operations as normal: “NASA continues working with Roscosmos and our other international partners in Canada, Europe, and Japan to maintain safe and continuous International Space Station operations.”

288d ago / 4:48 PM UTC

Ukraine ambassador calls for more severe sanctions against Russia

Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday that Russia had bombed their airports, warehouses, hospitals and civilian infrastructure. 

Speaking to reporters at the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington, D.C., Markarova urged the international community to form an "anti-Putin coalition" and called on the West to immediately implement more severe sanctions against Russia.

"The future of the world order depends on this," Markarova said.

Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington on Feb. 24, 2022. Standing at left with Markarova is Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi, Defense Attache with the Embassy of Ukraine.
Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova speaks at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington on Feb. 24, 2022. Standing at left with Markarova is Maj. Gen. Borys Kremenetskyi, Defense Attache with the Embassy of Ukraine.Patrick Semansky / AP

Markarova also asked for more help with defensive capabilities and humanitarian assistance, but said that Ukraine does not "expect anyone to fight for us."

She also said that a Russian platoon has surrendered to Ukraine's military after the Russian troops, she said, claimed to be unaware that they were being brought to the country to kill Ukrainians.

NBC has not been able to verify that claim. 

"We are protecting our home and we will not stop," Markarova said.

288d ago / 4:47 PM UTC

Russian disinformation, propaganda ramp up as conflict in Ukraine grows

Russia’s effort to spread disinformation and propaganda across the internet and through foreign and domestic media about its invasion of Ukraine started weeks ago — and it’s expected to ramp up now that the conflict has begun.

Disinformation experts say that they have seen a concerted effort from Russian leaders and state-backed media to push a false narrative around the reasons for invading Ukraine, and that they expect that to continue as both international pressure and even some domestic Russian resistance to war grows.

“We’re going to see a huge onslaught,” said Jane Lytvynenko, senior research fellow at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. “And we need to be prepared for that.”

Lytvynenko said people should be prepared for a wide variety of disinformation and propaganda, including the use of authentic images and video to push false narratives.

Read the full story here.

288d ago / 4:43 PM UTC

Ukraine president warns Russian forces attempting to seize Chernobyl nuclear facility

288d ago / 4:37 PM UTC

Russia isolated as 'Iron Curtain' falls down, Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy offered citizens details of military resistance in his latest update on Thursday, while continuing to urge Russian citizens to push back in protest against Putin. 

Zelenskyy praised the work of Ukrainian forces at the Russian border while calling the fight in the southern part of the nation "complicated" in remarks posted on Telegram. He also expressed optimism in his country's defense.

"The sounds that we hear today are not only missile strikes, explosions and rockets — it’s the sound of the Iron Curtain falling down and closing Russia from the other civilized world," Zelenskyy said.

He renewed calls for Ukrainian citizens to aid territorial defense forces, asking anyone with military experience to offer themselves in the effort. Switching to Russian, Zelenskyy spoke of the sanctions he has asked for from world leaders in retaliation to Putin's military operation. He urged Russians to voice their dissent and called the suggested sanctions "the most powerful" in world history.

"I want you to stand your case in the Red Square and big streets in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities of Russia. Not just on the Instagram," Zelenskyy said. "Russia is now being isolated from the rest of the world."

288d ago / 4:24 PM UTC

U.S. defense official: Russians 'making a move' on Kyiv

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has so far focused on three main axes of assault – all of which have been assessed to have the intention of taking key population centers – and Putin's forces are "making a move on Kyiv," a senior defense official told NBC News.

The first axis is a south-to-north approach from Crimea to Kherson; the second axis is a north-central to south approach from Belarus to Kyiv; and the third axis is a northeast to south approach occurring around Kharkiv, where the heaviest fighting is currently occurring, the official said.

The official disclosed the information as part of an operational update on the situation in Ukraine.

Russia is “making a move on Kyiv,” the official said, adding that the the U.S. assessment of Putin’s actions indicate that Russia has “every intention of basically decapitating the government and installing their own method of governance.”

“We have not been surprised so far with what we have seen them do,” the official said. “It is very much in line with what was expected.”

Russia’s actions so far indicate that its invasion is still only in its initial phase, the official said. Russia’s military operation will include multiple phases, but the U.S. does not currently know how many phases the invasion will include – or how long the phases will take.

288d ago / 4:24 PM UTC

SWIFT banking system could be used as sanction against Russia. What is it?

In recent weeks, President Joe Biden has threatened Russian President Vladimir Putin with "severe economic consequences" and sanctions like "he's never seen" if Russia invades Ukraine.

Now, with Putin taking military action against Ukraine, Biden and U.S. allies may consider imposing one of the harshest financial penalties against Russia: kicking it out of the SWIFT banking system.

But doing so, which some financial analysts have likened to a "nuclear option," would be an unprecedented move against one of the world's largest economies.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is a cooperative of financial institutions formed in 1973 and headquartered in Belgium. It is overseen by the National Bank of Belgium with cooperation from other major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve System, the Bank of England and the European Central Bank.

Read the full story here.

288d ago / 4:21 PM UTC

White House: Biden's meeting with G7 has concluded

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A meeting of the world leaders of the Group of Seven — Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — concluded at 10:27 a.m., a White House official told NBC News. The meeting also included Charles Michel, the head of the European Council, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The call, which started at 9:17 a.m. and lasted just over an hour, was convened to discuss a joint response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a White House official said.

288d ago / 4:12 PM UTC

Biden to announce new 'consequences' for Russia

President Joe Biden is expected to announce "further consequences" for Russia in a speech at the White House on Thursday afternoon, including additional sanctions.

"Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring, and the United States and its Allies and partners will respond in a united and decisive way. The world will hold Russia accountable," Biden said in a statement Wednesday evening.

The president is expected to speak at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Biden announced a narrow round of sanctions against Russia on Tuesday after Putin moved troops into Moscow-backed breakaway regions in the eastern part of Ukraine, hoping to deter the Russian leader from launching a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Read more about his speech on NBCNews.com.

Image: Joe Biden
Joe Biden meets with the National Security Council in the White House Situation Room on Feb. 24, 2022.White House
288d ago / 3:37 PM UTC

Kyiv mayor announces curfew for capital, metro stations will be open as shelters

Kyiv's mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said that the capital will be under a curfew Thursday from 10:00 p.m. local time until 7 a.m. 

"This is a necessary step, but in the current conditions of military aggression and martial law, necessary for the safety of the capital's residents," the mayor said on his Telegram channel.

Public transport will not operate during curfew, but metro stations will be available as shelters around the clock, the mayor said.

"We ask all Kyiv citizens to return home on time," he added. "If you need to move around the city during the curfew, in particular, employees of critical infrastructure companies, you must have identification documents."

288d ago / 3:24 PM UTC
288d ago / 3:22 PM UTC

Molodova's president welcomes Ukrainians fleeing conflict

Maia Sandu, Molodova's president, said Thursday that its borders are open to Ukrainians fleeing Russia's invasion.

Sandu added that her government has set up "temporary placement centers" to help Ukrainians and that there were "over 4,000 crossings today."

288d ago / 3:21 PM UTC

Scenes from Ukraine as conflict with Russia escalates

Images from Thursday show fear and chaos in Ukraine after Russia launched what Ukraine said was a "full-scale attack."

AFP via Getty Images; AP

Photos in order: A woman prays in Kyiv; Ukrainian military vehicles move past Independence Square in Kyiv; a Ukrainian military truck burns at an air defense base in Mariupol; police inspect an area after an apparent strike in Kyiv; a woman waits for a train trying to leave Kyiv; the body of a rocket in a apartment after shelling on the northern outskirts of Kharkiv.

288d ago / 3:16 PM UTC

'This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe': Zelenskyy warns Russia is trying to seize Chernobyl

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Thursday that Russian forces are trying to seize the defunct and contaminated Chernobyl nuclear power plant north of Kyiv near the border of Belarus. 

"Our defenders are giving their lives so that the tragedy of 1986 will not be repeated," Zelenskyy tweeted, referring to the 1986 incident in which the power plant's reactor building exploded, causing the release of large amounts of radiation into the air.

Zelenskyy said that he reported the situation to the Swedish prime minister. 

"This is a declaration of war against the whole of Europe," Zelenskyy tweeted. 

Earlier in the day, an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister wrote on Facebook that Russians breached the Ukrainian border from Belarus into the Chernobyl Zone. 

The adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, said the National Guard of Ukraine, which guards the storage of unsafe radioactive waste, was fiercely resisting.

"If the occupiers' artillery strikes hit the nuclear waste storage facility, radioactive dust may cover the territories of Ukraine, Belarus and the EU countries," Gerashchenko wrote.

The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is an area with a more than 18-mile radius around the former nuclear power plant. Areas of Belarus and Ukraine are contaminated by the radioactive fallout, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The zone is largely uninhabited. 

288d ago / 2:58 PM UTC

White House: Biden's meeting with G7 leaders has started

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Biden's virtual meeting with G7 leaders began at 9:17 a.m. ET, a White House official told NBC News.

Biden and the G7 leaders are meeting to discuss their joint response to Putin's attack on Ukraine.

Biden will speak to the American public later Thursday to announce how the U.S. and its allies will further respond to Russia's invasion.

288d ago / 2:35 PM UTC

Chinese and Russian foreign ministers speak by phone

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke by phone on Thursday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese state media reported.

Wang told Lavrov that Beijing "always respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries," according to a statement published by CCTV, China's state broadcaster. He also said the Ukrainian issue has a "complex and special history" and that China understands Russia's "legitimate concerns" on security issues.

In a reference to NATO, the U.S.-led military alliance that Ukraine has expressed interest in joining, Wang said that the "Cold War mentality" should be completely abandoned and a "balanced, effective and sustainable European security mechanism" should be established through dialogue and negotiation.

288d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Emergency personnel work at the crash site of a Ukrainian military plane south of Kyiv on Thursday.

Image: TOPSHOT-UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Ukraine Emergency Ministry Press Service / AFP - Getty Images
288d ago / 2:22 PM UTC

U.S. moves six F-35 aircraft to Baltic Sea, Black Sea regions from Germany

Six U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft moved to the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions Thursday from their base in Germany, U.S. Air Forces in Europe announced

The Air Force said the aircraft will support NATO's collective defense and have "unprecedented communication capabilities, command and control, and lethality for the combined and joint force."

"These capabilities afford NATO leaders the flexibility to project power and assert air dominance in highly contested environments," the Air Force said. 

It said that the aircraft, assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron, will be operating out of air bases in Estonia, Lithuania and Romania. 

288d ago / 2:12 PM UTC

4 people killed after Russian shell hits hospital, Ukraine says

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At least four people were killed when a Russian shell hit a hospital in Vuhledar in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine Thursday.

Ukraine's interior ministry said on its Telegram channel that the shell had struck the facility, with at least 10 other people left injured in the attack. Six doctors were among those injured, it said.

288d ago / 2:09 PM UTC

European Commission president promises harsh sanctions aimed at Russia's economy

President Vladimir Putin “ordered atrocious acts of aggression against a sovereign and independent country and innocent people,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday, unveiling plans for a new package of sanctions to punish Russia.

Putin “chose to bring war back to Europe,” she said in a news conference. “In a determined and united response the European Union will make it as difficult as possible for the Kremlin to pursue its aggressive actions.”

She added that she would present a package of “massive and targeted sanctions” to European leaders for their approval on Thursday.

These sanctions “will harshly limit Russia’s access to the capital markets” and have a “heavy impact,” she said, adding that they “would suppress Russia’s economic growth,” and cut off access to new technology including high tech components and cutting edge software. 

“Let me be very clear, it is President Putin who will have to explain this to his citizens,” she said. “I know that the Russian people do not want this war.” 

288d ago / 1:52 PM UTC

Biden convenes National Security Council in White House Situation Room

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President Joe Biden convened a National Security Council meeting Thursday morning in the White House Situation Room to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine, a White House official told NBC News.

Biden previously said he will speak to the American public later Thursday "to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security."

 

288d ago / 1:49 PM UTC

288d ago / 1:46 PM UTC

Bush: Invasion is 'gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II'

Former President George W. Bush on Thursday called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II" and ripped Russian leader Vladimir Putin for "authoritarian bullying."

"I join the international community in condemning Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. The American government and people must stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future," Bush added.

"We cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses," Bush said. "Ukraine is our friend and democratic ally and deserves our full support during this most difficult time."

288d ago / 1:44 PM UTC

Sen. Mark Warner warns that Russia's cyberattacks on Ukraine could draw NATO states into broader war

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a pair of interviews he’s concerned that Russia’s cyberattacks on Ukraine could expand and ensnare NATO nations, including the U.S., into a broader war.

Warner, in interviews with Axios Wednesday night and CBS News Thursday morning, suggested that Russia’s cyberattacks inside Ukraine could quickly spiral out of control, damaging digital assets outside the country as they spread, including those inside NATO member states, which could trigger NATO’s collective defense principle.

“One of the things that I'm gravely concerned about is if Russia unleashes its full cyber power against Ukraine; once you put malware into the wild in a sense, it knows no geographic boundary. So if the Russians decide they're going to try to turn off the power, turn off all the electricity all across Ukraine, very likely that may turn off the power in eastern Poland, in eastern Romania. That could affect our troops. If suddenly hospitals are shut down, if those NATO troops, American troops somehow have a car accident because the stop lights don't work, we are suddenly in an area, hypothetically an Article Five, where one NATO country is attacked, we all have to come to each other's aid,” Warner told CBS News.

“If Russia launched 100 pieces, 1,000 pieces of malware in an attack against NATO or Ukraine, that might bleed into NATO nations, we are in totally unpredictable territory,” he said.

Under NATO’s Article 5 Collective Defense principle, an attack on one member state is considered an attack against all member states. According to a 2021 NATO communique, the organization said it would determine “on a case-by-case basis” whether Article 5 could be triggered by a cyberattack.

President Joe Biden has repeatedly said he would not send U.S. combat troops into Ukraine.

288d ago / 1:43 PM UTC

Ukrainian servicemen get ready to repel an attack in Ukraine's Lugansk region on Thursday.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CONFLICT
Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images
288d ago / 1:30 PM UTC

Former NATO Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis warns Russia may try to capture Zelenskyy

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Admiral James Stavridis said in an interview on NBC's "TODAY" Thursday that he thinks Russia is going to try to capture Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"I think he’s gonna go full-bore, get to Kyiv, try and capture Zelenskyy," Stavridis said about Putin. 

The U.S. has to protect Zelenskyy and "figure out a way for him to have a government in exile, arm a Ukrainian resistance," he said. "We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us."

Stavridis warned he thinks this will be an "extensive campaign" and described the military strategy as being from "Military War College 101."

"Start with assaults that take out the air defense, take out the command and control, back it up with a cyber-attack, move your shock troops forward, your tank columns, all that’s in place, it’s been building for months," he said. "There’s really no mystery here."

Stavridis served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2009 to 2013. 

288d ago / 1:26 PM UTC

288d ago / 1:07 PM UTC

No U.S. diplomatic personnel in Ukraine

U.S. Embassy in Kyiv personnel did not drive back across the border from Poland to Ukraine on Thursday, a U.S. official confirmed to NBC News.

Since Monday, at Washington’s direction, the U.S. diplomatic personnel had been spending the night in Poland and driving into Lviv each morning to continue diplomatic engagement and emergency consular work. 

288d ago / 1:02 PM UTC

288d ago / 12:57 PM UTC

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemns Putin's 'hideous and barbaric venture'

Russia's attack on Ukraine is a "hideous and barbaric venture" that "must end in failure," Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a televised address to the nation Thursday. 

"We have Ukrainian friends in this country, neighbors, co-workers," he said. "Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy, and the right to choose its own destiny." 

"We and the world cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out," he added. "We cannot and will not just look away."

Together with its allies, he said the U.K. on Thursday, would "agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy." 

"Our mission is clear," he added. "Diplomatically, politically, economically, and eventually, militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure."

288d ago / 12:40 PM UTC

Russian forces make breakthrough in Kyiv region, Ukraine says

Russian forces have made a breakthrough in the Kyiv region, breaking through the state border, Ukraine's Ministry of the Interior said. 

In a post to its Telegram channel, the ministry said Russian military personnel had entered through the Vilcha checkpoint, which is less than 100 miles north of the capital.

"Border guards together with the Ukrainian military accepted the battle," it said. 

288d ago / 12:40 PM UTC

Biden to speak to American people; Congress calls for powerful sanctions on Russia

President Joe Biden is expected to meet with his G7 counterparts Thursday morning and then will address the American people to detail how the U.S. will respond to Russia. 

Biden said in a statement Wednesday evening that he was monitoring the situation from the White House and would get regular updates from his national security team.

He said he will speak to the American public "to announce the further consequences the United States and our Allies and partners will impose on Russia for this needless act of aggression against Ukraine and global peace and security."

Many members of Congress struck a bipartisan tone and condemned Putin's decision to invade Ukraine,  calling for swift and powerful sanctions on Russia. 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said Putin’s “unprovoked attack” has underscored the need to blacklist the Russian president and “expel the current Kremlin leadership from the international community.”

“Today must mark a historical shift in how the world views and deals with the despot in Moscow,” Menendez said.

Some Republicans blamed the attack on Ukraine on Biden, arguing that he didn't do enough in terms of sanctions to prevent the invasion. 

289d ago / 12:01 PM UTC

After weeks of waiting, Ukrainians face Russia's terrifying might

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Image: Russia Starts Large-Scale Attack On Ukraine
People wait for buses as they attempt to evacuate the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv on Thursday.Pierre Crom / Getty Images

Ukrainians are facing the terrifying force of a deadly Russian onslaught, which has turned weeks of quiet fears into reality.

Air raid sirens wailed across Ukraine's capital Kyiv Thursday as explosions boomed and flashed in cities across the country minutes after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized a military action against its western neighbor.

At the same time, long lines snaked outside of ATMs, supermarkets and gas stations in cities such as Kyiv and Mariupol as people scrambled to prepare for what was coming. 

Residents told NBC News of how their lives have been turned upside down overnight, with communities across the country gripped with "severe panic."

Read full story here.

289d ago / 11:45 AM UTC

289d ago / 11:43 AM UTC

NATO calls Russian attack 'unjustified and unprovoked,' deploys extra forces

NATO called Russia’s attack on Ukraine “entirely unjustified and unprovoked” in a statement on Thursday. 

“This renewed attack is a grave violation of international law, including the UN Charter,” said the North Atlantic Council. “It constitutes an act of aggression against an independent peaceful country.”

NATO has reiterated its support for the sovereignty of Ukraine as well as its territorial waters. It called on Russia to “immediately cease its military action and withdraw all its forces” and to “allow safe and unhindered humanitarian access and assistance to all persons in need.”

It also announced additional defensive land, sea, and air forces to be deployed in the eastern flank of NATO near Ukraine and Russia which it called as “preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory” measures.

“It is Russia, and Russia alone, which has chosen escalation,” the statement said.

289d ago / 11:32 AM UTC

Russia aims to neutralize Ukraine's 'military potential,' Kremlin spokesman says

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Russia said Thursday its aim to is to neutralize Ukraine's "military potential." 

In a briefing, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia's attack on Ukraine was "dictated only by our national interests and concern for the future."

"These are the only goals," he said.  "No one talks about occupation, this word does not apply here. Russia’s aim is neutralization of Ukraine’s military potential."